Wie Lie with Death // by Devin Madson
Book 2 of The Reborn Empire – Review for book 1 here.
Pub Day: January 12, 2021
Length: 525 pages
There is no calm after the storm.
In Kisia’s conquered north, former empress Miko Ts’ai is more determined than ever to save her empire. Yet, as her hunt for allies grows increasingly desperate, she may learn too late that power lies not in names but in people. Dishiva e’Jaroven is fiercely loyal to the new Levanti emperor. Only he can lead them, but his next choice will challenge everything she wants to believe about her people’s future. Abandoned by his Second Swords, Rah e’Torin must learn to survive without a herd. But honor dictates he bring his warriors home-a path that could be his salvation or lead to his destruction. And sold to the Witchdoctor, Cassandra Marius’ desperate search for a cure ties her fate inextricably to Empress Hana and her true nature could condemn them both.
I struggled a little more with writing this review than the one for the first book. There were a lot of great things about this book but there were also parts that I really struggled with. One thing that really stood out to me as something that I wish every series had was that Madson did a recap of what has happened so far right at the beginning of the book. I read We Ride the Storm just last week so I could still remember what happened in that book easily but as someone that generally struggles with my memory and often cannot remember anything about books besides a very vague plot, this is very much appreciated. I really hope this will be done in book 3 as well since it is a few months before we get that one and I definitely will need a reminder.
In addition to Miko, Rah, and Cassandra, we also now get the point of view of Dashiva, a Levanti Sword loyal to Gideon. Thanks to Dishiva, we get to learn many new things about Levanti society but we also have a view of the events surrounding the new emperor, which are – let me tell you – quite a few. Gideon, who sounded so steadfast and sure of himself when he first sat upon the throne, has quite an interesting character development in this book. But he is not the only one whose character changes and adapts to its circumstances – whether in a positive or in a negative way: Miko, Rah, Jie, Tor, Dishiva, Cassandra, Kaysa . . . Even those characters that at first seemed so simple and easy to understand show us that they are quite complicated with complex feelings that influence the overall story in interesting ways.
Some of these characters, despite this intriguing growth, become involved in utterly confusing events though. When I thought I knew who Kaysa and Cassandra were separately, all of a sudden everything was turned upside down on its head. I have an inkling as to why this is going on though and if that is true, then hat off to the author because you really made it work effectively here. Also, when I thought I knew where in this world a certain character was located (I don’t want to say the name of this one to avoid spoilers), that assumption was dashed very soon after. While you definitely find out the reasons for some this by the end of the book, I have more mixed feelings about its execution this time. The idea was very clever. It adds a lot of intrigue to the book and I am excited to learn more in the next book. But I feel like something was still missing. Rather than being compelled to continue to read to find out what is going on, this particular unfolding of events kept pulling me out of the story and left me wondering whether I needed to go back and reread several sections a few more times to find out what I was missing. I see what Madson was trying to do and I love how she is incorporating different strategies into her books to keep the readers on their toes, but this time it didn’t work for me quite as well.
Overall though, I think I am pretty happy with the book now that I have had a few days to think it over. I am definitely planning on rereading this series in the future because it’ll be interesting to see the events unfold while knowing the motivations and capabilities of the different characters. I am also a big fan of world-building and learning about the magic systems and special abilities in books, so it was fun to find out more about souls, deathwalkers, reincarnations, etc. I was really worried about the confusion being too much at some point for me to stay invested in some of the characters in this book, but now I am just even more intrigued than ever and can’t wait to see what other interesting plot devices Madson is going to present to us in the future!
If you think you would enjoy this title, I would really appreciate it if you considered purchasing it here (book 1 available here). By using Bookshop.org, a portion of each sale will go to support local, independent bookshops as well as me, which will allow me to continue to bring book related content to you!
About the Author:
Devin Madson is an Aurealis Award-winning fantasy author from Australia. After some sucky teenage years, she gave up reality and is now a dual-wielding rogue who works through every tiny side-quest and always ends up too over-powered for the final boss. Anything but zen, Devin subsists on tea and chocolate and so much fried zucchini she ought to have turned into one by now. Her fantasy novels come in all shades of grey and are populated with characters of questionable morals and a liking for witty banter.
About the Publisher:
Orbit is a leading publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with imprints in the UK, US and Australia. They publish across the spectrum of Science Fiction and Fantasy – from action-packed urban fantasy to widescreen space opera; from sweeping epic adventures to near-future thrillers. Launched in 2007, Orbit US is the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint at Hachette Book Group USA.
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Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.